Cushla Lewis Gender Diversity Program:
These placements are an important part of our strategic plan to increase the numbers of women within the world of cinematography. They would not be possible without funding from NZ Film Commission, and the hard work and backing from the productions who agree to take on the placements. Productions not only meet the NZCS halfway in funding, but there is also a large amount of behind-the-scenes work to ensure these placements run smoothly. In this particular instance, we would like to thank Line Producer Sarah Cook and Executive Producer Emma Slade for making this opportunity possible.
Report from Mara Yambao:
"I was given the role of Video Intern/Camera Trainee on The Justice of Bunny King. My main responsibilities were to ensure that video village was set up during shoot days and assisting the camera department. I reported directly to Ben Rowsell (1 st AC), Rayne Mokaraka (2 nd AC) and Danny Burnett (DIT). Prior to this shoot, I’ve had no experience working with the DIT department, in specific, setting up monitors/ video village on set and so I found this pretty exciting to jump into. This role allowed me to gain new skills and help me gain personal professional development.
The main lessons I took away from this role:
Exponential Growth: This was my first foray into the video splitting world and I did not know how to operate the equipment (FSI, Apollo, Teradeks). During my prep week, Danny gave me a quick theoretical introduction and run down of the equipment. However the learning did not start until the first day. I learnt more about the FSI monitor, the Apollo, cabling and the Teradeks through hands on approach, I was pushed to explore the different functions of the equipment by using. Being on set forced me to apply myself, and be observant at all times, I needed to make sure that not only was I performing my tasks correctly but I also had to be attentive to the needs of the team, for example, if they needed help moving equipment, help with lens changes or slating. I enjoyed finding that balance and learning through practical applications.
Communication is key: If I was having issues with the equipment, and my attempt in resolving them were unsuccessful, I needed to communicate this immediately to Danny so that he could help with resolving the issue. Furthermore, this role allowed me to liaise with different departments. For example, from liaising with the 1 st AD where to put the video village to requesting a 4x4 floppy from the Gaffer to set up for the video village.
Making decisions and being pro-active: Ben and I have worked on a previous film shoot, so it was great to have Ben as my 1 st AC, as he was able to give me feedback on my work. Prior to the shoot he gave me a short brief of my role and responsibilities, aside from learning the equipment and being able to problem solve issues he wanted me to be more pro-active on set and think outside the box and make my own decisions with my role. This was one of the most valuable lessons for me, as it gave me the confidence to “own” my work and also pushed me to take initiative, as opposed to waiting for orders.
Overall my experience working on the set of ‘The Justice of Bunny King,’ was amazing and it was an absolute privilege to work with Ginny, Ben, Rayne and Danny. I am very grateful to have been given this valuable opportunity.
Report from Ginny Loane NZCS Director of Photography:
Mara Yambao was our Gender Diversity trainee on “The Justice of Bunny King” and was a super-woman extraordinaire. She was always calm and collected with the tornado-like energy of the film set swirling around her.
It was a pleasure to see her really taking command of the job and owning it.
Mara has a focus I noticed immediately when we first worked together. She is the first person watching and reacting when anyone might need assistance, and does what is required quietly with no fuss, and does it well.
Mara has come ahead in leaps and bounds with gear and got her head around cameras and vid split systems straight away.
I am really confident that Mara is ready to take on a second AC position and easily fulfil the requirements of the job.
Report from Ben Rowsell 1st AC:
On the recent production “The Justice of Bunny King”, Mara was assigned to the camera department via the NZCS Gender Diversity Program. I had previously worked with Mara on Disney’s “Mulan” where she was camera intern and PA to Mandy Walker ASC ACS, so I was interested to see how she would go on a smaller independent movie.
From the start Mara was given responsibility of running the onset video monitoring and playback as well as general camera department support, where she showed great initiative and focus in both areas. The setup was 2 cameras for approximately 50 percent of the shoot and after some initial support from our DIT operator Danny Burnett, Mara was keen to do as much as possible on her own.
Mara worked closely with Director Gaysorn Thavat, DOP Ginny Loane NZCS & Script Supervisor Kath Thomas, making sure picture was up and always standing by to record and playback.
Throughout the shoot 2nd AC Rayne Mokaraka assigned more responsibility to Mara and she was soon confident with slating, paperwork, lens changes & general assisting work.
Mara was a pleasure to have as part of the team and I was very happy with her work ethic - it’s not often you find someone who is so quiet and attentive on set. Mara made good progress with her ability and confidence during the job, and hopefully we’ll see more of her on set in the future.